Today kicks off Holodomor Awareness week which runs until Sunday November 27th, commemorating the genocide of 7-10 million Ukrainians through forced starvation by the USSR from 1932-33. The Ukrainian Canadian Congress has a full list of Holodomor events happening this week, and here are some news worthy events that have happened so far:
Kyiv will host mourning events on Ukrainian Holodomor Remembrance Day on Nov. 26 with the participation of the country’s leaders, government members, other officials, and the public, the press service of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych reported on Nov. 18
According to the report, it is planned to hold a funeral procession, lay flowers at the Memorial in Commemoration of Famines’ Victims, and observe a minute of silence for the victims of famines.
On the same day, a requiem concert will be held at the National Opera House of Ukraine.
"I look around in the field, and I see lots of people dead," Iwaszczenko recalled Sunday, following a requiem service commemorating the 78th anniversary of the Ukrainian genocide.
Iwaszczenko, now 86, lost aunts and uncles in the great starvation, when agents of the Soviet state went into homes and confiscated any vegetables, grains and even seedlings — so peasants couldn’t grow their own food.
"The local government came in, and they took away all vegetables. They created hunger. They threw food in the ocean, but they wouldn’t give it to the people," said Iwaszczenko, who moved to Western New York in 1950. "We ate what we could from the fields."
Iwaszczenko’s parents survived the famine, too, but his father was arrested in 1937 by the KGB, the Soviet secret police. Iwaszczenko said he never again saw his father, and he still doesn’t know what happened to him.
Family members of Holodomor survivors also relayed stories passed down to them: of children being forced to vomit to prove to authorities they had no food in their homes; of a small head of cabbage feeding dozens of people in a soup seasoned only by the cook’s salty saliva; of villagers digging up floor boards for a bite of a spoiled seed.
"Stalin’s henchmen confined millions of Ukrainians in their villages, confiscated every grain and leaf of sustenance and prevented international relief efforts from reaching the millions of starving men, women and children," said John Riszko, secretary of the Ukrainian Congress Committee of America, Buffalo Chapter.
As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Ukraine’s independence — a testament to the spirit and determination of the people of Ukraine — we also remember the suffering they endured seventy-eight years ago during the catastrophic famine that has come to be known as the Holodomor — the “death by hunger.”
This terrible tragedy, created by the intentional seizure of crops and farms across Ukraine by Joseph Stalin, was one of communism’s greatest atrocities. Today, Americans join with the people of Ukraine and Ukrainians around the world in remembering those who suffered and died senselessly as a result of this manmade famine.
Sadly, no mention of genocide.
Ukrainians have succeeded in getting the UN and countries, including Canada, to recognize the famine was genocide. But they want present-day Russia to acknowledge it, too, and to offer compensation, Sheweli said. “They just say it was a famine, that neighbouring countries experienced it as well — which is revisionist history.”
An acknowledgment, she said, would go a long way to restoring historical justice. Hamilton, with about 14,000 Ukrainians, has Canada’s sixth or seventh largest Ukrainian population and has 13 famine survivors still living according to Sheweli.
Sheweli, born in Ukraine, heard first-hand accounts of the genocide from her mother and grandmother. They and the other children survived by eating mushrooms and other edibles in the forest, as well as soups made of forest greens.
“In 1932, Stalin decided to vanquish the Ukrainian farmers by means of starvation and thus break the Ukrainian national revival that had begun in the 1920s and was rekindling Ukrainian aspirations for an independent state,” it states.
“The territory of Soviet Ukraine and the predominantly Kuban region of Northern Caucasus (Soviet Russia) were isolated by army units, so that people could not go in search of food to the neighbouring Soviet regions where it was more readily available. The result was the Ukrainian genocide of 1932-33 known in Ukrainian as the Holodomor, or extermination by famine.”
“The Pope [Pius XI] learned about the Holodomor from the French Jesuit Bishop Michel d’Herbigny, who was the president of the Pro Russia Commission,” says Father McVay. “D’Herbigny was receiving letters from the Soviet Union as well as reports from foreign diplomats who had witnessed the situation first hand. D’Herbigny attempted to move mountains in order to convince Pius XI to launch an aid-mission to the Soviet Union.”
“The emotional Pius XI wept when he received one report, and he insisted that something must be done,” he continued. “Unfortunately churchmen and diplomats all concurred that no aid would ever reach the people because Soviet authorities were officially denying the existence of a famine that Stalin had deliberately orchestrated. In the end, the Pope was only able to authorize a gift of 10,000 Italian lire to be forwarded to starving Catholics via German charitable organizations that had contacts in Ukraine.”
Film — Genocide Revealed, Nov. 23, 6:30 p.m., St. Catharines Centennial Public Library, Rotary Bankers Room, 54 Church St. Admission, non perishable food for Community Care. Memorial Service — Ecumenical Memorial Service Commemorating the Holodomor, followed by a short program. Nov. 27, 2:30 p.m, Ukrainian Black Sea Hall, 455 Welland Ave. Sponsored by the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. Call 905-935-5186.
Ukraine – TV and radio companies are called to cancel entertainment shows on memory Day of Holodomor victims
National council of Ukraine on TV and radio broadcast has sent an address to heads of TV and radio companies to change the programs on November 26, the memory Day of Holodomor victims, press office of the National council reports.
The National council notes in his address that November 26 is the day of national mourning and calls all the TV and radio companies to demonstrate humanity and civil position.
Liberal Dave Levac was elected Speaker of the Ontario legislature Monday, taking over as chief political referee in Ontario’s first minority parliament in a generation.
Dave Levac was first elected in 1999. After his re-election in 2003, he was given the role of Chief Government Whip. In 2009, Levac sponsored a private member’s bill 147 – The Holodomor Memorial Day Act. As the first bill sponsored by three parties, bill 147 honours the victims of the Ukrainian Famine.